US Catholic Institutions and Immigrant Integration: Can They Rise to the Challenge?

The Catholic Church’s institutions and ministries – education, health, charities, labor, legal services, refugee resettlement, community-organizing, pastoral, and others – face critical opportunities and challenges in meeting the needs of today’s immigrants.  Over the last year, a number of leaders from diverse institutions have been meeting to discuss the Church’s role in integrating immigrants, with the aim of increasing the Church’s collective work in this area.  These leaders have documented the Church’s past and present  work with immigrants, worked toward a distinctly Catholic definition of integration, and identified promising integration programs and practices in diverse institutions.

The Center for Migration Studies (CMS) invited service providers, immigrant leaders, scholars, and others for a full day conference on the Catholic Church’s work to further the integration and well-being of immigrants and how Catholic institutions might collectively expand and improve this work. This free public event also marked the beginning of a year-long celebration of CMS’s 50th anniversary.  Video, presentations, resources and photos are below.

Monday, February 24, 2014
8:30am to 5:30pm
Casa Italiana
595 1/2 3rd Street NW
Washington D.C. 20001




Donald Kerwin, Executive Director, Center for Migration Studies

Session 1:
The Theological and Pastoral Grounding for Immigrant Integration

This session presented a vision of integration from a pastoral and theological perspective. It grounded immigrant integration in Catholic teaching and in the lived experience of the Church’s pastoral ministries to diverse immigrant groups.

  • Moderator:  Donald Kerwin, Executive Director, Center for Migration Studies


Keynote Address

The Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn

Session 2:
Missing, emerging and re-emerging ministries, programs and sectors

This session explored ministries and sectors that offer new opportunities for the Catholic Church to honor the dignity of immigrants and attend to the whole person. It considered how ministries that have played a historic role, such as the labor ministry, can be revived and expanded; whether new “integrating” institutions have arisen within the Church; and whether longstanding institutions have been revitalized or taken a new form in response to immigrant needs.

  • Moderator:  Fr. J. Cletus Kiley, Director of Immigration Policy, UNITE HERE


  • Dr. Joseph A. McCartin, Professor of History, Georgetown University; Director, Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor
  • Kimball Baker, Historian and Author of Go to the Worker
  • Elena Segura, Director, Office for Immigrant Affairs and Immigration Education, Archdiocese of Chicago

Update on the Prospects for Immigration Reform

Kevin Appleby, Director of Migration Policy and Public Affairs, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Session 3:
Catalyzing assets: immigrant empowerment and leadership as an essential ingredient in integration

This session explored empowerment and leadership models that are allowing immigrants to advance in society and assume leadership roles in the Church.

  • Moderator: Ralph McCloud, Director, Catholic Campaign for Human Development, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


Session 4:
Unique challenges and approaches to serving the unauthorized

Catholic institutions are uniquely positioned to improve integration outcomes for the unauthorized. This session explored ministries and initiatives that serve and are led by this population.

  • Moderator: Patricia Zapor, Reporter, Catholic News Service


  • Dr. Donna M. Carroll, President of Dominican University
  • Vanna Slaughter, Division Director, Immigration and Legal Services, Catholic Charities of Dallas
  • Yves Gomes, Student, University of Maryland and DREAM activist 

Session 5:
Immigrant Integration through Integrated Services

To maximize the effectiveness of Catholic institutions as integrating or mediating entities will require breaking silos and addressing different needs through different programs and means. This session featured models that engage cross-cutting issues and cross-sector collaboration.

  • Moderator: Jeanne M. Atkinson, Executive Director, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)


  • Luis Soto, Director of Hispanic Ministry and Executive Director of Centro San Juan Diego, the Hispanic Institute for Family and Pastoral Care, Archdiocese of Denver
  • Sr. RayMonda DuVall, Executive Director, Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego
  • Anastasia Brown, Director of Resettlement Services, Migration and Refugee Services, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Session 6:
Models and best practices to increase immigrant participation in Catholic institutions

Catholic institutions cannot integrate immigrants if they do not serve immigrants.  This session explored initiatives by Catholic schools, hospitals and health care centers, parishes, and other entities to increase their reach to immigrants and their families.

  • Moderator:  Sr. Sally Duffy, President and Executive Director, SC Ministry Foundation